How did this lovely seaside English village come by such an unusual name?
Compared to the likes of Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! and Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, the village of Westward Ho! may not sound that strange. But compared to most of the towns in the world, it is strange indeed; and to (possibly) many people’s surprise, despite its Old West-esque name, the village is located in southwest England.
The origin of the Westward Ho! unusual toponymy isn’t all that complex. It comes from Charles Kingsley’s 1855 novel of the same name, which takes place in the nearby port town of Bideford, Devon. Seeing the book become a national bestseller, local entrepreneurs jumped at the opportunity to invigorate tourism in the area, as seaside holidays were all the rage during the Victorian era. At first there was only a hotel named the Westward Ho! Hotel, but eventually the entire settlement became Westward Ho!. Today, more than 2,000 people reside here.
The name is not the only thing that attracts visitors to this little village. It is one of North Devon’s most popular spots for surfing and swimming, famous for its beautiful beachside scenery.
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